Not so fast on consolidation question

 
Posted3/25/2019 1:00 AM

A nonbinding referendum question for 14,600 Rutland-Dundee Fire Protection District residents asks if you favor consolidation. The question begs a "yes" vote. Who wouldn't vote for consolidation efficiency and reduced expenses?

Look closer. It is a two-part question. Part one asks if you would be in favor of consolidating fire and emergency medical services with the Village of West Dundee. Part two asks if you favor consolidating three fire departments/districts (West Dundee and Carpentersville's departments and East Dundee's District).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

When considering the two-part question, please recognize West Dundee has a municipal fire department. Their department competes with other municipal departments for scarce operating and capital resources. The district's spending, on the other hand, is controlled with an inflationary tax cap (PTELL). Spending over the tax cap requires taxpaying residents to approve increases.

By "consolidation" what is being discussed is the creation of an oversight board for the fire district and West Dundee's Fire Department. District taxpayers would need to expand their monitoring activities of both the municipal budget and the District budget. Yet District taxpayers would have no say on funding the municipal budget.

West Dundee's financial condition for the foreseeable future will experience considerable financial challenges. The village is highly leveraged with major on- and off-balance sheet debt, significant unfunded pension liabilities for both police and fire personnel and an expensive administration.

Consolidation is a good idea in the long term. Voters need to vote "no" to oppose the advisory referendum to discourage the district from moving too fast and acting hastily entering into an Intergovernmental Agreement prematurely. Consolidation needs to be deferred until West Dundee can demonstrate through a 5-year financial forecast that consolidation of fire management services would be a "win-win" for both the Village and its Fire Department as well as the Fire District.

Mike Tennis

Sleepy Hollow

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